IEET > Rights > HealthLongevity > Personhood > Affiliate Scholar > Andrea Kuszewski
Why Robots Need Psychologists
Andrea Kuszewski   Feb 15, 2012   Discover Magazine  

“My brain is not like a computer.” The day those words were spoken to me marked a significant milestone for both me and the 6-year-old who uttered them.

The words themselves may not seem that profound (and some may actually disagree), but that simple sentence represented months of therapy, hours upon hours of teaching, all for the hope that someday, a phrase like that would be spoken at precisely the right time. When he said that to me, he was showing me that the light had been turned on, the fire ignited. And he was letting me know that he realized this fact himself. Why was this a big deal?

I began my career as a behavior therapist, treating children on the autism spectrum. My specialty was Asperger syndrome, or high-functioning autism. This 6-year-old boy, whom I’ll call David, was a client of mine that I’d been treating for about a year at that time. His mom had read a book that had recently come out, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and told me how much David resembled the main character in the book (who had autism), in regards to his thinking and processing style. The main character said, “My brain is like a computer.”

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Andrea Kuszewski, an Affiliate Scholar of the IEET, lives in San Francisco and works as a researcher and manager with VORTEX Research Group. She investigates the neurocognitive factors behind human behavior.


Interesting article. Artificial Intelligence still needs to learn and correlate information. The fact that it needs to happen in a somewhat organic fashion suggests that augmentation of our brains, as Hank talks about, will also need to include some organic learning of new skills of thinking.

“Robots and human-like machines are gaining popularity in many diverse fields, for a wide variety of uses. The more they resemble actual human thinking and behavior, the more useful they can be. They are being used for teaching, companionship, therapy, and even entertainment. For example, Heather Knight, a social roboticist, is teaching her robot Data how to do stand-up comedy, routinely performing in public. In order for a robot to be successful at this very human-like task, understanding human behavior (and humor) is extremely helpful.”

Dear Doc..

Recently I have noticed that my Roomba 555 keeps bumping into me wherever I go around the house, and I get the feeling that it is somehow attempting to show me affection in the only way it knows how? Either that, or I am just deluded?

But seriously?

The real “Data” had some appalling gags scripted in STNG, and you can readily view the psychological consequences of emulating robot humour by following Brent Spiner on Twitter. Let’s hope the future of robotic humour and emotion chips is more engaging?


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